Called to Greatness

path viewed through a stone arch

The word ‘vocation’ comes from the Latin ‘vocare’ which means ‘to call’.  The primary vocation which we all share is the vocation to holiness. We are called to follow Christ and be in relationship with him.  From the Pope to a newborn – it’s the same call and equally compelling.

A secondary vocation relates to our state of life. Some are called to priestly or religious life. Others to various forms of single life, maybe open to later possibilities, but for many of us this vocation is marriage.

Tertiary vocations relate to our occupations – such as teaching, writing, nursing, etc. These may be a lifelong vocation or may change over time but what all vocations have in common is God’s purpose.  For example, by teaching others, no matter what subject or faith is present, it’s a vocation to proclaim God’s love to the students through the teacher’s desire to help them achieve.  While we have the choice to respond to a vocational call or ignore it, most believe that their ‘vocation’ chose them, rather than the other way around.  There is great joy in ‘finding one’s vocation’ and it drives within us a dedication and commitment to living it out.

Churches are thankfully now receiving requests for weddings again, following the various restrictions during the pandemic.  Catholic marriage, the most common lived vocation in the Church, increasingly stands as a radical alternative to the values of the common culture – different to religious life or priesthood in today’s culture, but just as radical.  Catholic married couples forgo many things our culture views as inalienable rights – personal autonomy/independence and sexual freedom for example.  We forgo these, not as some sacrificial burden but because that is integral to the very essence of our vocation.  In doing so, our radical self-donation to each other becomes a lived human witness to God’s love for each of us, as discussed in last Sunday’s reflection.

When we think of those in religious and priestly vocations, we naturally expect them to have life practices and disciplines that help them grow in their vocation. The same applies to married couples, but how many of us think about spiritual exercises for the married?  (click on that link to watch a short video on how practices from religious life can be adapted for the married couple.)

Whether married, in a relationship, in our own family or with our best friends, here is a challenging question for us:   “What have I done for our relationship today?”  Would we answer that question any better if we swapped “today” for “this week” or “this month”?  All too often our answer might be “not much”.

Last week we had Valentine’s Day so maybe we are in the mood to commit to a new habit?….  Ask yourself each day “What will I do for my relationship today”?  We could, for instance, get into the habit of affirming our loved ones.  Humans are quite good at criticising but less good at speaking gratitude for the little helps and favours by which others show us care and love.  At the end of each day, why not tell your loved one or best friend what pleased you about them during the day?  (e.g: “ I really appreciated your thoughtfulness in picking my parcel up.  It saved me so much time on my hectic day”).

Big or small – whatever we do to nourish our relationships and friendships – our families, communities and the world will benefit from the collective efforts of the largest vocational group in our Church.